Paul Solet's film centers on Marvin Heemeyer, who welded a bulldozer into an engine of revenge
To some people, Marvin Heemeyer is a folk hero, a man abused by the system who decided he wasn't going to take it anymore. Or, to quote Shakespeare, who posed the question:
Wether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Marvin answered, "Fuck it, I think I'll take up arms."
Just how Heemeyer took up arms -- in the form of a bulldozer welded into an impregnable tank -- and what motivated him to demolish a portion of the town of Granby, Colorado is the subject of the new documentary Tread now playing in select cities [click here for locations]. It's also available on for streaming on Amazon and iTunes.
As I discussed with director Paul Solet at last year's SXSW Film Festival, where Tread premiered, Marvin's grudge revolved around a zoning spat and access to sewer lines, of all things. He felt he had been wronged by city officials and the town newspaper, which had sided against him in his simmering dispute. Heemeyer spent a year and a half secretly modifying a Komatsu D355A bulldozer, fortifying it with armor plating and concrete. Then on June 4, 2004 he burst through the walls of his muffler business and motored out on his demolition derby, and authorities could do nothing to stop him.
"He thought that he was on a mission from God," Solet told me in Austin. "He had definitely placed himself sort of as the protagonist of this hero's journey and it was one not without divine direction."
Only one person was killed in the incident -- Heemeyer himself, who took his own life. Solet drew from writings and audio recordings Heemeyer left behind, and he also had a replica of the "killdozer" built to recreate the fateful outburst.
Watch the video below for my conversation with Solet, which has racked up more than 38,000 views on YouTube.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.